On Thursday March 20th Dulwich College played host to the present day voice of Raymond Chandler and his biographer.
Booker Prize-winning Irish author John Banville has written several stories under the name of Benjamin Black, including the recent ‘Black Eyed Blonde’. In this work Banville brings us more adventures of Philip Marlowe who was the creation of one of our most famous OAs, Raymond Chandler. Tom Williams, is the author of a biography of Raymond Chandler ‘A Mysterious Something in the Light’ and a rapt audience listened to the two men in conversation as they discussed topics ranging from modern crime fiction writing to which actor would make a good Philip Marlowe today.
Banville’s take on modern crime fiction writing struck a chord with many in the audience. Identifying a lack of “grace and elegance” in the language of many best-selling authors, Banville suggested the more chivalric elements that Chandler’s Marlowe embodied were lacking amongst the blood and guts of contemporary writers. Banville also highlighted the “slightly dandified” language of not only Chandler but one of DC’s other famous authors, P. G. Wodehouse and it was interesting to hear these strong opinions on the way writing has evolved over time.
On the theme of a 24/7, rolling news world where we’re used to seeing big screen adaptations of great literary works Banville was asked which actor he thought would make a good Philip Marlowe. Tom Williams mentioned that Chandler’s choice for Marlowe on screen was Cary Grant and Banville’s 21st century preference was for George Clooney for his ability to portray the melancholy of Marlowe’s solitary character.
There was much to enjoy on this evening of gentle conversation that was humorous and thought-provoking and we extend our thanks to Dulwich Books for the opportunity to work with them on bringing these two fascinating writers together.